This Blog is dedicated to the Noble and Great horses in our lives and throughout history. Visit the land of the unicorns in Behind The Mist, the horse lover's fantasy for pre-teens to adults.

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Monday, November 26, 2012


I have spent most of the last seven months working for the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International (PATH.) This wonderful non-profit organization works to train and certify instructors and riding clinics that help people with all sorts of disabilities through Equestrian Therapy. Disabilities served include MS, MD, CP, vision and hearing, autism and even wounded wariors. As Ann Romney says in this television interview, Horses are truly a gift from God. They serve and help the able bodied as well as those who are struggling whether physically or emotionally. 
Here is the video from the interview in Times Square with Ann Romney and Para-olympian Rebecca Hart. I am amazed that Lord Ludger is so calm in such a crazy environment! (Sorry about the ads but I don't know how to get rid of them!)
I also found this article by Landsay Ysay McCall in the United States Para-Equestrian Association's newsletter that I am sure you will enjoy!
Ann Romney Awards Rebecca Hart and Lord Ludger 2012 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship Trophy at USEF Dressage Festival of Champions
By: Lindsay Yosay McCall
Gladstone, NJ –June 26, 2012 – After earning the 2012 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship title on June 13, 2012, Rebecca Hart, 26, of Unionville, PA, and Lord Ludger, owned by Jessica Ransehousen, were invited back to the United States Equestrian Team Foundation’s headquarters at Hamilton Farm.  In front of a congregation of press, spectators, and top Olympic Dressage athletes, Hart was awarded the perpetual Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship trophy from presenter Ann Romney.  Romney has been a long supporter of Dressage, as an owner and athlete and she is a spokesperson for Multiple Sclerosis, which is one of the many diagnoses that specific Para-Equestrian athletes face.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Hart receiving 2012 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship award from Ann Romney during the 2012 USEF Dressage Festival of Champions. Photograph taken in Gladstone, NJ (c) Susan Stickle at
In the moment that Rebecca Hart was awarded the 2012 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National championship trophy, she felt honored and humbled to represent the sport she has advocated for since 1998. Hart will add this National Championship to a list of accomplishments that she has achieved since 2003. In 2003 and 2007 she represented the U.S. at the Para-Equestrian World Championships, in 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010 she won the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championship and earned the reserve championship in 2010. In 2008 she represented the U.S. at the Beijing Paralympics, and in 2010 she represented the U.S. again at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Hart expressed, “I have been asked how it feels to have won the National Championship five times.  My answer is that it feels great, but I didn’t win this alone.  It takes a village to compete on this level and this win belongs to everyone who has ever helped me to get this point; From the person who offered the smallest word of encouragement, to family, friends, coaches, and corporate sponsors. I was truly honored to be asked to come back for the awards ceremony and presentation at the able-bodied USEF Grand Prix National Championships and selection trials with Ann Romney.  It is fabulous for Dressage to be brought into the limelight and in conjunction, Para-Equestrian Dressage.  Gladstone is steeped in history and to have my sport included in that history is truly special.  Mrs. Romney was so gracious as a presenter.  It was inspiring to have Mrs. Romney present this award because not only is she herself a fellow equestrian, but she also knows what it means to work with physical challenges.”
In 1998, Ann Romney was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  As an alternative to her mainstream treatments she began participating in Dressage. As with many equestrians, she jumped head first into the equestrian sport and never looked back. In 2005 she earned her USDF Silver Medal and in 2006 her Gold Medal. While working with trainers Jan and Amy Ebeling she developed a desire to achieve the top of the sport.  In 2012 at the USEF Dressage Festival of Champions her horse Rafalca, co-owned by Amy Ebeling and Beth Meyers, earned the third position with rider Jan Ebeling on the 2012 USEF nominated entries for the United States Olympic Dressage Team.
As Para-Equestrian Dressage and able-bodied Dressage intertwined at historic USET Foundation headquarters in Gladstone, NJ property, spectators began to learn more about the sport of Para-Dressage. Rebecca Hart trains week in and week out while she maintains a full-time job in corporate at the Starbucks Coffee Company.  She trains with Para-Dressage Chef d’Equipe and prominent Event rider Missy Ransehousen, alongside Olympian Jessica Ransehousen at Blue Hill Farm. Hart was born with Familial Spastic Paraplegia, a genetic disease that causes muscle wasting and lack of control from the waist down. Her ability to overcome obstacles has transformed her into an award winning international athlete in both Para-Dressage and able-bodied competition. In the future Hart hopes to reach the top of the Dressage discipline. On June 19, 2012 Rebecca Hart was named to the top of USEF Nominated Entry for U.S. Para-Equestrian Dressage Team for the 2012 Paralympics.
Read about the Noble and Great Horses in the fantasy Trilogy: The Mist Trilogy. 
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Thursday, November 1, 2012

MAN O' WAR - Greatest Horse of the 20th Century

I only know of one horse for whom a heavy metal band was named! Actually, I don't listen to heavy metal bands but I thought it was fun to make the connection with one of the most famous horses of all time. The second scene in Mists of Darkness-Book Two of the Mist Trilogy takes place at Churchill Downs when the evil unicorn Hasbadana sends his oppressive mist to the famous race track to "invite" horses to join his army. So, in honor of Mists of Darkness's impending release, I decided to do another blog post about a famous race horse...clearly one of the noble and great horses that is surely a unicorn now.

Man o' War was born in Lexington, Kentucky on March 29th, 1917. His owner and breeder was August Belmont, Jr. (1851-1924.) The Belmont Stakes had been named after his father. At the age of 65, August Belmont, Jr. joined the U.S. Army to fight in France during World War I. The foal was born while he was away and Mrs. Belmont named it Man o' War in honor of her husband's brave service for his country.

Upon returning from the war, August decided that he was done with the horse racing business and Man o' War was sold at the Saratoga Yearling Auction in 1918 for $5,000. The buyer was Samuel Riddle. The beautiful yearling proved to be a very wise purchase. With Jockey Johnny Loftus riding, Man o' War won 9 our of 10 races as a two-year-old. In those days, there were no starting gates. All of the  horses circled around behind a piece of webbing that was stretched across the track. When the "barrier" as it was called was lifted, the horses started running. In his one loss, it has been reported that Loftus had Man o' War facing the wrong direction when the barrier was lifted and the rest of the field got a big head start on him.

As a three-year-old, Man o' War was 16 and a half hands tall and weighed 1,150 pounds. Clarence Kummen became his new jockey when Loftus was denied a renewal of his license by the Jockey Club. Man o' War was not entered in the Kentucky Derby because his wise owner thought he was too young to go the 1 and 1/4 mile long race. If you have been reading my blog long, you know how I feel about racing these horses at such a young age. Anyway, Man o' War went on to obliterate all of the other horses he raced against until, by the end of the season, no one wanted to race him.

His final race was in Canada against the previous year's Triple Crown winner (though they didn't call it that back then,) Sir Barton. Man o' War won easily.

Man o' War won 20 out of his 21 races and broke numerous world, American and track records. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and the Hall of Fame in 1957. The AP ranked Man o' War as the greatest horse of the 20th Century.

Man o'War retired in Kentucky and sired many fabulous horses. He died on Nov. 1, 1947 at the age of 30.

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